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2018 music industry predictions from the Australian pros

2018 music industry predictions

New year, new industry. If 2017 was the year of tech innovation, partnerships that hope to curb copyright issues, creative independence, and the start of a movement to tackle sexual misconduct, then 2018 is when we’ll bear the fruits of that labour.

At least that’s according to some of our local leaders and tastemakers in the industry. Check out their music industry predictions for 2018 below:

1. Local music’s overseas presence is growing

Jaddan Comerford, UNIFIED Music Group

I see 2018 as another year for Australian music to continue making major inroads in International markets.

We can now count over 50 Australian artists that are headlining shows in the US and Europe. As an industry we have our challenges but Australian music is alive and well and has never been stronger.

2. There is momentum for good people

Leanne De Souza, Association of Artist Managers (AAM)

There is momentum for good people in the music industry, and they will use their hearts and act with compassion. Caring for themselves, behaving in the workplace and giving to their community in some way.

3. We’ll start to finally see the term “digital marketing” disappear

Stephen Green, SGC Media

I think the trend for 2018 will be the continued peeling back of bullshit in the industry, creating a happier, healthier albeit at times more uncomfortable industry. There’s the continued calling out of the underbelly of sexual harassment and prejudice in its many forms that will continue to improve the working conditions for everyone and with a greater range of voices feeling welcome to be part of our industry, we’ll only get stronger. This is going to take years, but if 2017 was the year we called it out, 2018 needs to be the year we change the game.

In music marketing, metrics and real data will continue their march across assumptions and the “way things have always worked”. For radio, there’s now real metrics to tell you when things are played and what impact those plays really have, cutting through the crap that a few spins at night are making a difference or that your independent dance track with no momentum actually has a chance if you have the right label or plugger. The press industry (including us publicists) are going to have to stop hiding between “readership” metrics that have no relationship to who is reading the ads they are selling or stories that are being written. Online outlets hiding behind rubbery “hit” numbers or visitor numbers that don’t reflect who actually reads each article are going to start getting found out. We’ll finally realise that the number of likes is not as important as post engagement on social media. We’ll realise that a non-targeted low-CPM remainder banner ads are not actually cheap if nobody remembers having seen it. Conversely, people will realised that “youth focused” isn’t a genre and if they want to sell ads with specialist CPMs they need to cultivate a specialist audience.

We’ll start to finally see the term “digital marketing” disappear as everyone realises it’s just “marketing” and those that focus on “online” or “offline” and expect someone else to handle the rest (or expect that artists or labels have the budget to hire others to bridge their knowledge gap) are doomed to irrelevancy. Good music marketing companies will be judged as much on their ability to create a direct targeting audience as they are on being able to get songs on the radio or articles in press. Streaming services being seen as marketing tools will also start to move back to reality as people realise that hearing a song at position #15 on a chill-out playlist might have gotten you a lot of streams, but didn’t necessarily get people interested in you as an artist, so while important it isn’t the magic bullet 2016/17 would have had you believe. Smart music marketers in 2018 will get back to realising that exposure and fascination are both important and if you aren’t looking after both in tandem, you’ve failed.

I think we’ll see 2018 as a better year for commercial Australian music than what 2017 was and a swing back towards slightly less rigid commercial radio genre formats and perhaps that allergy to guitars might subside slightly. Or maybe I’m just hoping. We’ll see more “nationalizing” of commercial radio with the facade that there’s real difference in playlists state by state disappearing. Music content in print newspapers will continue to decline. We’ll continue to see the Coles/Woolies-style consolidation of Spotify and Apple Music as the smaller players all get taken out or merged in. Amazon Music will launch as a third force in Australia. Facebook will continue to make moves into the music space also. And SGC Media will have a multi-million dollar takeover bid launched at it which it will promptly accept, the proceeds of which will be promptly wasted on funding a 90s renaissance label.

4. The market will see urban and hip hop artists further feature at the forefront

Denis Handlin AO , Sony Music, Chairman and CEO Australia & NZ and President Asia

Overall this will be another strong year of local artist development and innovation in marketing and promotions by record labels for their artists to connect with music lovers.

The industry is in a good place and 2018 will see continued market growth, building on the positive figures of the past few years. This will be mainly driven by further consumer uptake of paid streaming services. Through this, consumer listening patterns will continue to broaden and the number of tracks listened to by an individual will likely exceed the number in the previous year. This is an exciting environment for artists and record companies to offer even more to both old and new music fans.

The market will see urban and hip hop artists further feature at the forefront of trends, which totally reflects where youth music audiences in particular are at.

Australian television and online entertainment will also continue to evolve. A late night TV show format may appear, and this would provide a welcome spot for audiences to enjoy Australian and international artist appearances and performances.

At Sony Music Australia, we will continue to strongly invest in Australian artists as well as drive our entertainment brand and talent management activities.

We will see releases from our diversified local roster of artists, including Tash Sultana, Amy Shark, Delta Goodrem, John Farnham, Peking Duk, Jessica Mauboy, Human Nature and JOY, as well as concept albums from Samantha Jade, Dami Im and Jess & Matt. We complement this with our outstanding international artist releases, which includes, as announced only recently, a new album from Justin Timberlake, continued success from Camila Cabello and G-Eazy, Grammy nominated SZA and Khalid, and of course P!NK and Foo Fighters as they tour the country this year.

Our Talentworks Parade Management business continues to sign new talent in  sports and media, which builds on the signings of Mal Meninga, Johnathan Thurston, Andrew Johns, Alex McKinnon and  journalist/commentator Andrew Webster.

And get ready for another great ARIAs!

5. Australian music’s call-out culture of systematic discrimination and abuse will continue

Siobhan Kranz, Mushroom Group

I predict that King Gizz will release 15451210354 albums this year. Jokes! In all seriousness, my big predictions for 2018 are:

  • People in Australian music will continue to speak out about the systematic discrimination and abuse that happens in our industry, particularly against (but not limited to) women. What we saw in 2017 was the tip of the iceberg – 2018 will hopefully be the year the music industry gets serious about equality!
  • I think the changes to Net Neutrality in the US will have a trickledown effect to us in Australia. Changing/disrupting the way people can consume and access websites will have a huge impact on music discovery.
  • This one is more a hope than a prediction, but I would LOVE to see more Australian music in the charts and getting played on commercial radio. *crosses fingers*

6. I Oh You’s Johann Ponniah is the future

Kurt Bailey, Mirror Music Group

Johann Ponniah will continue to keep being at the forefront of exciting new music and one day be leading the charge on the music industry here. Love that guy and the label.

I would personally love to see country and bluegrass music have more impact on the younger people over here in the alternative space. More mandolins, banjos, pedal steel, violins and dobros. That would be unreal!

7. The power will be given to music creators

Heath Johns, BMG Australia

This year we will see the power pendulum swing further away from the traditional industry power brokers and closer toward the music creators.

2018 is the year of the hyper-empowered musician and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

8. Workplace protections for women will be introduced


2018 will be the year that the voice gets even louder for equal opportunities and workplace protections for women. As #MeToo continues to ripple around the world and women feel more empowered to share their stories of misconduct, we will see more women stand up and movements of solidarity respond to the issue. Already around the word, we’ve seen the announcements of STOP2018, TIME’S UP and, here in Australia, #meNOmore.

It’s time that the names of our perpetrators in our industry become known and solutions to support a cultural shift come to fruition.

9. Increased local support of Australian music

Ollie Wards, triple j Content Director

The Australian music industry will continue to be in good health this year. triple j’s focus on local artists will continue to create opportunities for Australian music, combined with increasing investment from multinational streaming services and touring companies, we’ll continue to see growth locally, as well as heightened international demand.

As homegrown artists pull big numbers online and draw mainstage crowds, we might even see music event programming on TV, as well as pressure on commercial services to increase support of Australian music.

10. Thomas Edison’s prescient vision will come to fruition

Ben & Liam, triple j Breakfast Hosts

Streaming, dead. MP3 downloads, dead. CDs, dead. Cassette tapes, dead. Vinyl, dead. 2018 is the year of the Wax Cylinder, just like Thomas Edison would have wanted.